10 Things Your Employees Should Know About Social Security

Do you need help educating your employees on the importance of social security? Here is an interesting article form SHRM about the 10 things your employees should know about their social security by Irene Saccoccio.

Social Security is with you throughout life’s journey. Yet, most people don’t know about Social Security’s 80-plus-year legacy or all we have to offer. National Social Security Month is the perfect time to talk to your employees about some of the ways we help secure today and tomorrow.

1.     Social Security provides an inflation-protected benefit that lasts a lifetime. Social Security benefits are based on how long your employees have worked, how much they’ve earned, and when they start receiving benefits.

2.     Social Security touches the lives of nearly all Americans, often during times of personal hardship, transition, and uncertainty. It is important your employees understand the benefits we offer.

3.     We are more than just retirement. Social Security provides financial security to many children and adults before retirement, including the chronically ill, children of deceased parents, and wounded warriors.

4.     We put your employees in control by offering convenient services that fit their needs. For example, a personal my Social Security account is the fastest, most secure way for your employees to do business with us. They can verify their earnings, check their Social Security Statement, get a benefit verification letter, and more. They should open a my Social Security account today.

5.     Your employees can estimate their future retirement or disability benefits by using our Retirement Estimator. It gives estimates based on their actual earnings record, which can be invaluable as they plan for their future.

6.     Your employees can apply for benefits online by completing an application for retirementspousesMedicare, or disability benefits from the comfort of their home or preferred secure location.

7.     We offer veterans expedited disability claims processing. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.

8.     Medicare beneficiaries with low resources and income can qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year.

9.     Social Security is committed to making our information, programs, benefits, services, and facilities accessible to everyone. We will provide your employees, free of charge, with a reasonable accommodation to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, Social Security programs and activities.

10.Social Security is committed to protecting your employees’ identity and information and safeguarding their personally identifiable information. Our online services feature a robust verification and authentication process, and they remain safe and secure.

Invite your employees to visit www.socialsecurity.gov today and learn how we help secure today and tomorrow.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Saccoccio I. (2017 April 19). 10 things your employees should know about social security [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/10-things-your-employees-should-know-about-social-security


Advisers Seek Innovative Ways To Increase Retirement Savings

Are you struggling to save for your retirement? Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Adviser on what employee benefits advisers are doing to help their clients prepare for their retirement by Cort Olsen.

In a recent forum co-hosted by Retirement Clearinghouse, EBRI, Wiser and the Financial Services Roundtable, experts shared how automated retirement portability programs could be the key to increased participation in private-sector retirement plans.

Today, at least 64% of Americans say they do not have sufficient funds for retirement and less than half of private-sector workers participate in workplace retirement programs. Former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, says these statistics could improve through better access to workplace retirement savings plans.

“So many small businesses tell [Congress], ‘Look we’d like to offer a plan, but we just can’t afford it,’” Conrad says. “We take the liability off of their shoulders, we take the administrative difficulty off their shoulders and allow a third party to administer the plans, run the plans and have the financial responsibility for the plans, which makes a big difference for employers.”

With these improved access points to savings plans, Conrad says the opportunity arises to create new retirement security plans for smaller businesses with fewer than 500 employees, enabling multiple employers — even from different industries — to band together to offer their workers low cost, well-designed options.

“Once the [savings plan] has been put in place for a period of time, we then introduce a nationwide minimum coverage standard for businesses with more than 50 employees,” Conrad says. “Any mandate is controversial, but legally if you dramatically simplify (don’t require employer match) really all they have to do is payroll deduction, and then it becomes not unreasonable for employers with 50 or more workers to offer some kind of plan.”

How to achieve auto-portability
Once plans have been made available for employers of all sizes, Jack VanDerhei, research director for the Employee Benefit Research Institute, recommends three different scenarios for auto-portability of retirement plans between employers.

1) Full auto-portability. VanDerhei considers this to be the most efficient scenario, where every participant consolidates their savings in their new employer plan every time they change jobs. The goal would be that all participants arrive at age 65 with only one account accumulated over the span of their working life.
2) Partial auto-portability. In this scenario, every participant with less than $5,000 — indexed for inflation — consolidates their savings in their new employer plan every time they change jobs. “If you have $5,000 or less in your account balance at the time you change jobs, leakage would only come from hardship withdrawals,” VanDerhei says. This means that money would only leave the account if the participant determined it necessary to take money out to pay for a necessity.
3) Baseline: status quo. In addition to hardship withdrawals, there is a participant-specific probability of cashing out and loan default leakage at the time of job transition. These participant specific leakages can be age, income, account balance and how long the participant has been with the employer.

VanDerhei says the younger the participants are to begin using full auto-portability of retirement plans, the more likely they are to get the most out of their retirement savings once they reach the age of 65.

“If you look at people who are currently between the ages of 25 and 34, under a partial portability there is a chance for accumulation to reach $659 billion and under a full portability there is a chance to reach $847 billion in accumulation,” VanDerhei says. “As you would expect, accumulation will decrease as the age increases if they choose to enter into auto-portability later in life.”

Spencer Williams, president and CEO of Retirement Clearinghouse, LLC, says although retirement portability has been codified into ERISA there are not enough mechanisms involved to encourage participants to continue to save for retirement rather than cashing out.

“We have a little more than a third of the population cashing out when they change jobs,” Williams says. “The research shows that if you fix that problem, the difficulty moving peoples’ money, we will begin the process of reducing leakage.”

Once a retirement account reaches a certain amount, Williams adds that participants will begin to take the account more seriously and have more desire to continue investing in the plan.

“We need to create an efficient and effective means by which people can have their money moved for them, and in doing that we begin to change peoples’ behavior,” Williams says. “Finally, if we increase access and coverage, along with auto-portability, all of those benefits accrue from all those new participants in the system.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 April 6). Advisers seek innovative ways to increase retirement savings [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/advisers-seek-innovative-ways-to-increase-retirement-savings


5 Simple Steps Clients Can Take to Boost Workers' Financial Wellness

Are you trying to help your employees increase their financial well-being? Check out these 5 great tips from Employee Benefits Adviser on how to help increase your employees’ investment into their financial wellness by Joe Desilva.

Now more than ever, employers offer a wide array of benefits to build engagement and culture within their walls. Healthy snack options adorning the kitchen? Check. Fitness stipends? Check. Competitive work-from-home policies? Check. These are all nice-to-have extras, but employees are increasingly concerned about a more fundamental concern: retirement planning. And it’s here where employers are not providing enough enticing options as they are with the other, flashier perks.

One of the biggest issues employees face as they plan for retirement is economic uncertainty. Only 21% of workers are very confident that they will have enough money for a comfortable retirement, according to the 2016 Employee Benefit Research Institute Retirement Confidence Survey. This should matter to employers because financial uncertainty can have a negative effect on work performance, according to a study by Lockton Retirement Services. The study found that one in five workers reported feeling extremely stressed, mostly because of their job or finances, and those reporting high stress were twice as likely to report poor health overall, leading to more sick days and decreased productivity.

Boosting financial wellness programs not only can help employees’ finances in the long term, it can possibly help employees manage stress and increase productivity in the short term. Employers seem to understand this. In fact, 92% of employer-respondents in a study commissioned by ADP titled Winning with Wellness confirmed interest in providing their workforce with information about retirement planning basics, and 84% said the same of retirement income planning.

Yet, even though many employers appreciate the value of these programs, 32% are not considering implementation. The appetite exists for retirement planning, but the prospects of starting a program appear to be daunting. The truth is, it can be easier than you think.

Here are five simple steps an employer can take to start helping employees find tools and information to help them better manage their finances and grow more confident in their financial futures.

  1. Teach employees critical planning skills. Experts suggest retirees will need 75%-90% of their working income to live comfortably in retirement. To help employees determine the optimal amount to meet their needs, consider providing them with tools that look at factors such as current annual pre-tax income, estimated Social Security benefit amount, current age and the age they would like to retire, and any retirement savings and project possible retirement savings outcomes. Helping them estimate savings needs and retirement investing now can pay off in the future.
  2. Offer access to automatic enrollment and auto-escalation features. No matter how well employees do with other investments, the 401(k)’s advantages of tax-deferred growth and a company match is likely unbeatable. By automatically enrolling employees in retirement plans with savings increases, you may be able to position your employees for a more confident financial future.
  3. Provide resources so employees can seek investment advice from a professional. Employees may want to seek advice on their investments so they will not bear the stress of retirement on their own. There are a lot of options available to employees, but they may not be familiar enough with those options to determine whether or not they’d benefit. Providing access to professional investment advice with respect to retirement accounts may help employees feel confident in their retirement decisions.
  4. Deliver tools and personalized materials that integrate with real data. Working with a service provider that integrates payroll and recordkeeping data can give a retirement plan the ability to deliver targeted personalized information that employees can use for planning purposes. By delivering relevant information, employees can get engaged and have a better sense of the progress of their retirement planning.
  5. Make self-learning tools available for honing financial skills anytime, anywhere. A financial wellness program can help employees face their financial decisions with confidence. Most programs offer a library of tools and resources that gives employees access to information about planning, saving, and providing for their home, family and retirement. With financial education, employees may make better financial choices and set realistic goals.

At a time when employee retention is crucial, it’s important to create a support system for employees as they plan their financial futures. With so many workers concerned about retirement security, employers have a clear opportunity to step in and help. Whether it’s enabling employees to save more for retirement or learn about budgeting, financial planning can potentially serve as another popular perk among that list of nice-to-haves.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Desilva J. (2017 March 16). 5 simple steps clients can take to boost workers’ financial wellness[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/5-simple-steps-clients-can-take-to-boost-workers-financial-wellness


HSAs to see explosive growth

Are you using HSAs to help save money on your healthcare cost? Find out from this article by Employee Benefit News on how the market for HSAs is set to grow exponentially over the next few years by Kathryn Mayer.

It’s about time for health savings accounts to take the spotlight. And that’s going to be a good thing for employees, industry experts say: Not only will HSAs help workers with their healthcare expenses, but the savings vehicles also will put them on a better track for retirement planning.

“The market is going to blow up,” American Retirement Association CEO Brian Graff said this week during the NAPA 401k Summit in Las Vegas, citing new healthcare reform proposals — including the GOP’s American Health Care Act — as well as a better understand of HSAs as reasons for the predicted growth.

The ACHA, which doubles HSA contributions, “dramatically increases the incentive for employers to offer high-deductible health plans,” he said. The GOP plan expands the allowable size of healthcare savings accounts that can be coupled with high-deductible insurance plans, up to $6,550 for an individual or $13,100 for a family. It also expands qualifying expenses to include health insurance premiums, over-the-counter medications and preventive health costs.

By 2018, there will be 27 million HSA accounts and more than $50 billion in HSA assets, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation cited by Graff. Currently, there are 18 million accounts and $34.7 billion in assets.

Those statistics — and proposed healthcare reforms — are catching the eye of the retirement industry: The accounts have the potential to become “more compelling than a 401(k),” due to tax-deductible and tax-deferred incentives, Graff said.

“We have to think about what this means for our industry,” he said.

In a live poll during a conference keynote, three-quarters of retirement advisers noted they do not offer HSA advisory services. That number, Graff predicts, will change radically over the next two years.

Current proposals are positioning HSAs a hybrid of medical and retirement savings, Graff said. “It’s not just a health account, it’s a savings account.” Healthcare expenses are a major concern for retirees and often cause employees to push back plans for retirement. If HSA funds are not needed for medical expenses, the money can be withdrawn after age 65 and taxed as ordinary income.

Graff says plan sponsors and retirement advisers should encourage employees to first max out their HSAs and then match their 401(k)s.

The HSA is “the nexus between healthcare and retirement,” Daniel Bryant, an advisor with Sheridan Road, said during a standing-room only panel on HSAs Monday.

Meanwhile, added panelist Ryan Tiernan, a national accounts manager with American Funds, “it’s the biggest jump ball no one has cared to jump to. HSAs are probably the most efficient way to save and invest for your biggest expense in retirement.”

See the original article Here.


Employee financial health connects to physical health

Did you know that there is a direct corelation between financial and physical health? This article from Benefits Pro is a great read explaining the link between an employee’s financial and physical health by Caroline Marwitz

LAS VEGAS — Are poor physical health and poor financial health connected? The benefits industry is making the link, if you consider how many deals between health-related benefits companies and retirement providers have occurred lately.

Obviously, the poor, at least in America, have a more fragile state of health than the more affluent. And as we age, the potential for unplanned health events to hurt us financially increases — and that’s important for retirement advisors and plan sponsors to remember. But what about your typical employees who are neither poor nor elderly?

A study in the journal Psychological Science looked at worker attitudes and actions to find out whether poor physical health and poor financial health might be linked, and how.

The researchers studied employees who were given an employer-sponsored health exam and were told they needed to change certain behaviors to improve their health. Which employees made the changes and who blew them off?

The researchers accounted for external factors such as different levels of income and physical health, and differences in demographics. Yet the results were still startling:

“Employees who saved for the future by contributing to a 401(k) showed improvements in their abnormal blood-test results and health behaviors approximately 27% more often than noncontributors did,” the researchers concluded in Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements.

The employees who made the behavior changes to better their physical health were also the ones who were taking action to better their financial health.

Employee attitudes about the future and how much control they have over it affect whether they take care of their physical health and their financial health. That sense of control, or conversely, that feeling of no control, and thus, no investment in long-term results, is one reason why some employees might not participate in retirement plans, and, maybe, wellness and well-being programs.

What if, along with the retirement health-care cost calculators many retirement plan providers offer, there was a fatalism calculator too? That way you could see right away each person’s sense of control or feelings of inevitability about their future and help them more efficiently.

Because if someone is more fatalistic, telling them about their 401(k) match or pension options isn’t going to make them enroll in a retirement plan. Scaring them with statistics about the high costs of health care in retirement isn’t going to do the trick either. Instead, consider the following points for such employees:

  • They can be helped to see that the future is a lot more unpredictable (and complex) than they realize, both negatively and positively.
  • They can be helped to realize that even the smallest actions they undertake can have a big impact in the long term.
  • They can be helped to understand that seemingly unobtainable goals can be broken down into steps and tackled bit by bit.

Look behind employee behavior for the unexamined biases and long-held assumptions that are causing it. If they can see that it’s not who they are that determines their future but what they do, it’s a start.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Marwitz C. (2017 March 19). Employee financial health connects to physical health [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/19/employee-financial-health-connects-to-physical-hea?ref=hp-top-stories


How to avoid a DOL 401(k) audit

Are you worried that your company’s 401(k) plan might face a Department of Labor audit? Check out this great tips from Employee Benefits Network on how to avoid a 401 (k) aduit by Robert C. Lawton

There are many reasons for plan sponsors to do everything possible to avoid a Department of Labor 401(k) audit. They can be costly, time consuming and generally unpleasant.

The DOL, in its fact sheet for fiscal year 2016, indicates that the Employee Benefits Security Administration closed 2,002 civil investigations with 1,356 of those cases (67.7%) resulting in monetary penalties/additional contributions. The total amount EBSA recovered for Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan participants last year was $777.5 million.

In my experience, if a plan sponsor receives notification from the DOL that it has an interest in looking over their 401(k) plan, they need to be concerned. Not only do the statistics support the fact that DOL auditors do a good job of uncovering problems, but in my opinion, they are not an easy group to negotiate with to fix deficiencies.

As a result, the best policy plan sponsors should follow to ensure they don’t receive a visit from a DOL representative is to do everything possible to avoid encouraging such a visit. Here are some suggestions that may help plan sponsors avoid a DOL 401(k) audit:

1. Always respond to employee inquiries in a timely way. The most frequent trigger for a DOL 401(k) audit is a complaint received from a current or former employee. These complaints can originate from employees you have terminated who feel poorly treated or existing employees who feel ignored. Make sure you are sensitive to employee concerns and respond in a timely way to all questions. Keep copies of any correspondence. Be very professional in how you treat those individuals who are terminated — even though in certain instances that may be difficult. Terminated employees who feel they have been mistreated often call the DOL to “get back” at an employer.

2. Improve employee communication. Often employee frustrations come from not understanding a benefit program — or worse, misunderstanding it. If you are aware that employees are frustrated with your plan or there is a lot of behind the scenes discussion about it, schedule an education meeting as soon as possible to explain plan provisions.

3. Fix your plan — now. If the DOL decides to audit your 401(k) plan, as shown above, it frequently finds something wrong. Many times plan sponsors are aware that a certain provision in the plan is a friction point for employees. Or worse, they know the plan is brokenand no one has taken the time to fix it. Contact your benefits consultant, recordkeeper or benefits attorney to address these trouble spots before they cause an employee to call the DOL.

4. Conduct a “mock” DOL 401(k) audit. Many 401(k) plan sponsors have found it helpful to conduct a mock audit of their plan or hire a consulting firm to do one for them. If management hasn’t been responsive to your concerns about addressing a plan issue, having evidence to share with them that shows an audit failure can be very convincing.

5. Make sure your 5500 is filed correctly. The second most frequent cause of a DoL 401(k) audit relates to the annual Form 5500 filing. The most common 5500 errors include failing to file on time, not including all required schedules and failing to answer multiple-part questions. Ensure that your 5500 is filed by a competent provider and that it is filed on time. Most plan sponsors either use their recordkeeper or accountant to file their plan’s 5500. Don’t do it yourself. The fees a provider will charge to do the work for you are very reasonable.

6. Don’t be late with contribution submissions. Surprisingly, many employers still don’t view participant 401(k) contributions as participant money. They are, and the DOL is very interested in ensuring that participant 401(k) contributions are submitted promptly to the trustee. Be very consistent and timely with your deposits to the trust. Participants will track how long it takes for their payroll deductions to hit the trust. If they aren’t happy with how quickly that happens, they may call the DOL. If you have forgotten to submit a payroll to the trustee, or think you may have been late, call your benefits attorney. There are procedures to follow for late contribution submissions.

DOL audits are generally not pleasant. It wouldn’t be too strong to say that they are often adversarial. Because these visits are typically generated by employee complaints or Form 5500 errors, auditors have a pretty good idea that something is wrong. Consequently, I recommend that plan sponsors do everything they can to avoid a DOL 401(k) audit.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Lawton R. (2017 February 13). How to avoid a DOL 401(k) audit [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-to-avoid-a-dol-401-k-audit?brief=00000152-14a5-d1cc-a5fa-7cff48fe0001


3 Financial Risks That Retirees Underestimate

Are you worried about the risks associated with retirement? If so check out this article from Kiplinger about some of the risks associated with retirement that retirees underestimate by Christopher Scalese

When you think of risk in retirement, what comes to mind? For many, the various risks associated with the stock market may be the first. From asset allocation risk (avoiding keeping all of your eggs in one basket) to sequence-of-return risk (the risk of taking out income when the market is down), these factors become increasingly important once your paychecks stop and you begin drawing from your investments for retirement income.

However, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to key risks that should be considered for retirement planning in today’s economy. Here are three areas I commonly see retirees and pre-retirees forgetting to consider:

1. Portfolio Failure Risk

How long can you live off of income from your investments? Is it likely that your investments can provide an income stream you won’t outlive? There are many theories, such as the ever-popular 4% rule, which suggests that, if you maintain a portfolio consisting of 60% bonds and 40% equities, you can take 4% of your total portfolio each year. However, studies in recent years have shown this method to have about a 50% failure rate based on today’s low-interest rates and market volatility.

Another withdrawal method is guessing how long you’ll live and dividing your savings by 20 to 30 years—but what happens if you live 31 years?

If you do not have a written income plan for how to strategically withdraw from your accounts over the duration of your retirement, this may be a significant risk to consider.

2. Unexpected Financial Responsibility Risk

Life is full of surprises, and retirement is no different. Today’s retirees are known as the “sandwich generation” with financial pressures coming from all sides—often having to provide for grown children and aging parents at the same time.

Additionally, there are difficult but significant financial planning considerations for the future loss of a spouse. You can expect to lose a Social Security payment and potentially see changes to a pension. Simultaneously, tax brackets will shrink when going from married to single, taking a larger piece of your already-reduced income.

Having a proactive, flexible financial strategy can be essential in helping you adapt to your many changing needs throughout the course of your retirement.

3. Health Care Risk

Beyond the considerations for inflation on daily purchasing power in retirement, rising costs of health care, particularly as Americans continue living longer, require explicit planning to avoid a physically disabling event from becoming a financial concern. From Medigap options to long-term care and hybrid insurance policies, considering insurance coverage for perhaps one of the most significant expenses in retirement may be a pivotal point in your retirement planning.

While these obstacles may seem daunting, identifying and understanding the concerns unique to your retirement goals should be the first step to help overcome them.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Scalese C. (2017 January). 3 financial risks that retirees underestimate [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T037-C032-S014-3-financial-risks-that-retirees-underestimate.html


Corporate pension plan funding levels flatline in 2016

Great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about Corporate pension plan funding by Phil Albinus

The stock market may have soared after the news that Donald Trump won the White House and plans to cut taxes and regulations, but the pension funded status of the nation’s largest corporate plan sponsors remains stuck at 80%. This figure is roughly unchanged for 2014 and 2015 when the status rates were 81%, according to a recent analysis conducted by Willis Towers Watson.

In an analysis of 410 Fortune 1000 companies that sponsor U.S. defined benefit pension plans, Willis Towers Watson found that the pension deficit is projected to have increased $17 billion to $325 billion at the end of 2016, compared to a $308 billion deficit at the end of 2015.

“On the face of it, [the 2016 figures of 80%] looks pretty boring. For the last three years the funding levels were measured around 80% and it doesn’t look that interesting,” says Alan Glickstein, senior retirement consultant for WTW. “But one thing to note is that 80% is not 100%. To be that stagnant and that far away from 100% is not a good thing.”

In fact, 2016’s tentative figures, which have yet to be finalized, could have been worse.

According to Glickstein, the 2016 figure hides “some pretty dramatic movements” that occurred during the unpredictable election year. “Prior to the election and due to the significant changes to equities and other asset values after the election, this number would have been more like 75%” if Trump had not won, he says.

“That is the interesting story because we haven’t been as low as 75% really ever in the last 20 years,” Glickstein says.

Fortune 1000 companies contributed $35 billion to their pension plans in 2016, according to the WTW research. This was an increase compared to the $31 billion employers contributed to their plans in 2015 but still beneath the contribution levels from previous years. “Employer contributions have been declining steadily for the last several years partly due to legislated funding relief,” according to Willis Towers Watson.

Despite these dips, total pension obligations increased from $1.61 trillion to $1.64 trillion.

Why are U.S. companies slow to fund their own pension plans, especially when in 2006 and 2007 the self-funded levels were 99% and 106% respectively?

“In prior years, plan sponsors put lots of extra contributions into the plans to help pay off the deficit, and investment returns have been up and the equities the plans have invested in have helped with that we haven’t been able to move this up above 80%,” Glickstein says.

That said, many American corporations are sitting on significant amounts of cash but appear not to be putting money into their retirement plans.

“We have seen companies contributing more to the plans in the past, but each plan is different and each corporation has their own situation. Either a company is cash rich or it is not,” Glickstein says.

“With interest rates being low and the deductions company get for their contributions, for a lot of plan sponsors it has been an easy decision to put a lot of money into the plan,” he says.
“And there are plenty of rewards for keeping premiums down by increasing contributions.”

Further, a new Congress and president could have an impact on corporate contributions especially if new corporate tax codes are enacted.

The broad initiatives of a new administration in the executive branch and legislative branch will have an impact, says Glickstein.

“With tax reforms, the general thrust for corporations and individuals is we are going to lower the rates and broaden the underlying tax base. So for pensions, the underlying tax rates for pensions is probably going to be lower and if [Congress gets] tax reforms done and they lower the corporate rate in 2017, and even make it retroactive,” Glickstein speculates. He predicts that some plan sponsors will want to contribute much more to the 2016 tax year in order to qualify for the deductions at the higher rates while they still can.

“There is a short-term opportunity potentially to put more money in now and capture the higher deduction once tax reform kicks in,” says Glickstein. “And with an 80% funded status, there is plenty of room to put more money in than with an overfunded plan.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Albinus P. (2017 January 9). Corporate pension plan funding levels flatline in 2016[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/corporate-pension-plan-funding-levels-flat-line-in-2016?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s

Interesting article from BenefitsPro about employee’s increased input into their 401(k)s by Ben Steverman

(Bloomberg) — Saving for retirement requires making sacrifices now so your future self can afford to stop working later. Someday. Maybe.

It’s not news that Americans aren’t saving enough. The typical baby boomer, whose generation is just starting to retire, has a median of $147,000 in all of his retirement accounts, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

And if you think that’s depressing, try this on: 1 in 3 private sector workers don’t even have a retirement plan through their job.

But the new year brings with it some good news: If people do have a 401(k) plan through their employer, there’s data showing them choosing to set aside more for their later years.

On average, workers in 2015 put 6.8 percent of their salaries into 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, according to a recent survey of more than 600 plans. That’s up from 6.2 percent in 2010, the Plan Sponsor Council of America found.

An increase in retirement savings of 0.6 percentage points might not sound like much, but it represents a 10 percent rise in the amount flowing into those plans over just five years, or billions of dollars. About $7 trillion is already invested in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans, according to the Investment Company Institute.

If Americans keep inching up their contribution rate, they could end up saving trillions of dollars more. Workers in these plans are even starting to meet the savings recommendations of retirement experts, who suggest setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your salary, including any employer contribution, over a career.

While workers are saving more, companies have held their financial contributions steady—at least over the past few years. Employers pitched in 4.7 percent of payroll in 2015, the same as in 2013 and 2014. Even so, it’s still more than a point above their contribution rates in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

One reason workers participating in these plans are probably saving more: They’re being signed up automatically—no extra paperwork required. Almost 58 percent of plans surveyed make their sign-up process automatic, requiring employees to take action only if they don’t want to save.

Automatic enrollment can make a big difference. In such plans, 89 percent of workers are making contributions, the survey finds, while 75 percent make 401(k) contributions under plans without auto-enrollment. Auto-enrolled employees save more, 7.2 percent of their salaries vs. 6.3 percent for those who weren’t auto-enrolled.

Companies are also automatically hiking worker contribution rates over time, a feature called “auto-escalation” that’s still far less common than auto-enrollment. Less than a quarter of plans auto-escalate all participants, while 16 percent boost contributions only for workers who are deemed to be not saving enough.

A key appeal of automatic 401(k) plans is that they don’t require participating workers to be investing experts. Unless employees choose otherwise, their money is automatically put in a recommended investment.

And, at more and more 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, this takes the form of a target-date fund, a diversified mix of investments chosen based on a participant’s age or years until retirement. Two-thirds of plans offer target-date funds, the survey found, double the number in 2006.

The share of workers’ assets in target-date funds is up fivefold as a result.

A final piece of good news for workers is that they’re keeping more of every dollar they earn in a 401(k) account. Fees on 401(k) plans are falling, according to a recent analysis released by BrightScope and the Investment Company Institute.

The total cost of running a 401(k) plan is down 17 percent since 2009, to 0.39 percent of plan assets in 2014. The cost of the mutual funds inside 401(k)s has dropped even faster, by 28 percent to an annual expense ratio of 0.53 percent in 2015.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Steverman B. (2017 January 5). Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/05/employees-putting-billions-more-than-usual-in-thei?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


How millennials are redefining retirement

Great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about millennials effect on their future retirement by Paula Aven Gladych

Millennials are redefining what retirement will look like when it is their time to join the ranks.

According to a study by Bank of America Merrill Edge, 83% of millennials plan to work into retirement, which is the exact opposite of current retirees, the majority of whom say they aren’t working in retirement or have never worked during their retirement.

“That’s a fundamental shift. They may never see the end to their working days if they don’t make some changes,” says Joe Santos, regional sales executive with Merrill Edge in Los Angeles. “We have seen over the past few years consistent insecurity and uncertainty around retirement planning. With millennials and Gen X, the struggle is competing with life priorities.”

Seventy-nine percent of Gen Xers and 64% of baby boomers also expect to work in retirement.

Half of millennials ages 18 to 24 believe they will need to take on a second job to be able to save for retirement, compared to 25% for all respondents, according to the Merrill Edge Report for fall 2016.

Despite the fact that millennials are not very optimistic about their ability to save for retirement, 70% of millennial respondents and 72% of Gen Xers described their investment approach as hands on, compared to 60% of all respondents. Millennials use online and mobile apps and express interest in saving for retirement, Santos says.

Nearly one-third of millennials say they are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to making investments, compared to 19% of all respondents.

“This growing sense of self-reliance among millennials, however, seems to be increasing the desire for further financial guidance and validation from professionals,” the report found, with 31% of millennials saying they are interested in seeking to hire a financial adviser within the next five years. Forty-two percent of them said they were most open to receiving online financial advice.

Talking about finances is still taboo, the report indicates. Only 54% of survey respondents said they would feel comfortable discussing their personal finances with their spouse or partner; 39% said they would feel comfortable discussing their finances with a financial professional.

“That uncertainty causes them to underestimate what is needed for retirement. If you think of student loans for millennials, they are struggling with student loan debt. It makes retirement seem so far out there,” Santos says.

The majority of those surveyed felt they needed less than $1 million in savings to achieve a comfortable retirement, but 19% of respondents didn’t know how much they needed to save for retirement.

“And even with these estimates, two in five (40%) of today’s non-retirees say reaching their magic number by retirement will either be ‘difficult’ or ‘virtually unattainable,’” the report found. Seventeen percent of respondents said they are relying on luck to get them by.

Because millennials are so young, they have an opportunity to do all the right things so that they can have a secure retirement, Santos says. “I love seeing that they have the interest to learn about retirement by taking a step-by-step approach.”

He added that the last thing people want to do is start saving too late.

“It is a challenge when you think about so many folks straddled with debt, especially student loan debt, and growing longevity. The sandwich generation makes these milestones seem unattainable, but with some proper planning, we can get there,” he says.

The survey of 1,045 mass affluent respondents throughout the United States was conducted by Braun Research from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5, 2016. Mass affluent individuals are those with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000 or those ages 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Gladych P.(2016 December 30). How millennials are redefining retirement[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/how-millennials-are-redefining-retirement?utm_campaign=eba_retirement_final-dec%2030%202016&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&eid=909e5836add2a914a8604144bea27b68